||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2007)
Coordinates: 38°45′S 176°34′E / 38.750°S 176.567°E
Location of the Kaingaroa Forest
Kaingaroa Forest is the largest forest in the North Island of New Zealand, and the largest plantation in the southern hemisphere.
The forest covers 2900 km² in the inland East Cape and Bay of Plenty regions, and stretches south past the east coast of Lake Taupo. The headquarters of the forest are at the small settlement of Kaingaroa, 50 kilometres southeast of Rotorua.
The forest was first planted in the late 1920s and owned as a state asset by the New Zealand government. While under government control it was known as the Kaingaroa State Forest.
In the 1980s the government sought to sell the forests to private interests. Several Māori iwi went to Court to prevent the sale, arguing that they were the traditional owners of the land, that the land had been wrongfully taken from them, and that the government should retain the land until a settlement of the claims had been reached. It has taken 20 years to reach settlement of those claims and to see the forest lands returned to their traditional owners. On 1 July 2009, it passed to a group of tribes that were the traditional land owners in partial settlement of their claims that the Crown breached the Treaty of Waitangi. The forests themselves (the trees) continue to be owned by a private company (Kaingaroa Timberlands Ltd), which holds a forestry licence over the land.
New Zealand State Highway 38, from Wai-O-Tapu to Murupara and further through the Ureweras, to Wairoa, crosses the forest.